Wenwu Zhang, PhD


     Wenwu Zhang, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor

    Department of Cellular & Integrative Physiology
    Indiana University School of Medicine
    635 Barnhill Drive, Room 313
    Indianapolis, Indiana  46202-5120                                                                                             


  • M.D., 1994, Clinical Medicine, Hunan Medical University, Changsha, China
  • M.S.,  1996, Surgery, Hunan Medical University, Changsha, China
  • Ph.D., 2004, Physiology, Indiana University, Indianapolis
  • Post Doc, 2006, Physiology, Indiana University

Research Biography Summary

Personal Statement

I trained as a cardiothoracic surgeon in China and participated in several research projects while working as a fellow in cardiothoracic surgery. I moved to the United States for graduate training and received a PhD in physiology from Indiana University in 2005. I began postdoctoral training in Dr. Susan Gunst’s laboratory in 2005. My research has focused on the mechanisms by which cytoskeletal proteins regulate airway smooth muscle contractility. My studies have described several novel mechanisms by which cytoskeletal proteins may regulate contraction and tension development of airway smooth muscle. Recently, I have extended my interests into the pathophysiology of airway responsiveness and inflammation to evaluate signaling mechanisms that may be involved in regulating inflammatory responses of the airways, and to in vivo studies using a mouse asthma model. 

Contribution to Science
My publications directly addressed a novel and detailed hypothesis for a molecular mechanism by which external stimuli regulate Integrin adhesion junction protein complex assembly, organization and activation in airway smooth muscle, which are fundamental components of the signal transduction process and provide a mechanism for airway smooth muscle  to integrate its physiologic responses to humoral and mechanical stimuli. I served as the primary investigator or co-investigator in all of these studies.

  • Zhang W and Gunst SJ. Dynamic association between alpha-actinin and beta-integrin regulates contraction of canine tracheal smooth muscle. J Physiol 572: 659-676, 2006. Highlighted by Editorial Focus: Walsh MP. The force is with α-actinin: dynamic regulation of the extracellular matrix cytoskeletal connection in airway smooth muscle. J. Physiol. (London); 572(3): 6611-612. 2006.
  • Zhang W, Wu Y, Wu C and Gunst SJ. Integrin-linked kinase regulates N-WASp-mediated actin polymerization and tension development in tracheal smooth muscle. J Biol Chem 282: 34568-34580, 2007.
  • Huang Y, Zhang W, and Gunst SJ. Activation of vinculin induced by cholinergic stimulation regulates contraction of tracheal smooth muscle tissue. J Biol Chem, 286: 3630-3644, 2010.
  • Zhang W, and Gunst SJ. P21-Activated Kinase (Pak) Regulates the Contraction and Actin Polymerization of Airway Smooth Muscle by Regulating Paxillin S273 Phosphorylation. J Biol Chem. In Review
  • In addition to the contributions described above, I also published several publications to address of the effects of actin polymerization and its regulation by cytoskeleton proteins on pulmonary inflammation, and may provide molecular target for mitigating the airway inflammation, hyper-reactivity and remodeling associated with allergic airway diseases.  I served as the primary investigator or co-investigator in all of these studies.
  • Hoover W, Zhang W, Xue Z, Gao H, Chernoff, J,  Clapp D, Gunst SJ, and Tepper  RS. "Inhibition of p21 activated kinase (PAK) reduces airway responsiveness in vivo and in vitro in murine and human airways," PLoS. One. 7(8), e42601, 2012.
  • Xue Z, Zhang W, Desai LP, Gao H, Gunst SJ, Tepper RS. Increased Mechanical Strain imposed on Murine Lungs during Ventilation In Vivo Depresses Airway Responsiveness and Activation of Protein Kinase Akt. J Appl Physiol. 2013 Mar 14. PMID: 23493362
  • Lott JM, Sehra S, Mehrotra P, Mickler EA, Fisher AJ, Zhang W, Presson RG, Busk MF, Goenka S, Gunst SJ, Kaplan MH, Wilkes DS, Wenzel SE. Type V collagen-induced tolerance prevents airway hyperresponsiveness. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 Feb 15;187(4):454-7. PMID: 23418334.
  • Zhang W, Zhan L, Gao H, Gunst SJ and Tepper RS. Pak1 smooth muscle conditional knock out mice have depressed airway reactivity and altered airway smooth muscle phenotype. JAP Manuscript in Preparation

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography:


updated 4/2016


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